After losing siblings to police violence, women join forces in Sisters Of The Movement
Women brought together by grief form an organization to combat police violence
Terence Crutcher, 40, had finished his first day of music appreciation class at Tulsa Community College just minutes before he died.
Crutcher was unarmed when he was shot and killed by police officer Betty Shelby as he stood beside his car on 36th Street North and Lewis Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He left behind four young children, grieving parents, and a twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, who is committed to the work of justice in his name.
Crutcher is a part of the Sisters of the Movement, a collective of women who share a tragic bond: all of their loved ones died at the hands of police. They are the faces and families behind the hashtags working together to protect Black lives from police violence.
“I wouldn’t wish this sorority on anyone,” Crutcher told theGrio.
Joining her in the movement are siblings Ashley & Amber Carr, whose sister, Atatiana Jefferson, was killed by police in her home while babysitting her nephew.
Allisa Findley is the sister of Botham Jean, who was shot by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger when she walked into his apartment while he was watching football.
Natasha Duncan’s sister, Shantel Davis, was unarmed when she was shot and killed In Brooklyn by police.
And Victoria Davis is Delrawn Small’s sister. He was a New York City father killed by an off-duty police officer, who he believed cut him off while he was driving with his girlfriend, son and stepdaughter.
Even though the sisters communicate digitally, they met for the first time in person a few weeks back during an interview on The Today Show.
“It was emotional,” Duncan said of the meeting.
“We share the same pain. And sometimes when you’re around people, you know, you have the sympathy of others. But to actually know what it feels like to lose a sibling, one of your best friends, everyone can relate. And that was like the most comforting thing that we had that day,” she said.
With the police killing of George Floyd reigniting a firestorm of rage and protests against police brutality, the sisters must continue to grapple with their own sorrow coupled with national pain.
“I haven’t fully grieved losing my brother yet,” Findley told theGrio.
“So when there is a new murder in a similar manner, it’s basically piling on. You go through your trauma all over again.”
Of all the sisters in the cohort, Allisa is the only one to receive some semblance of justice. Her brother’s killer, Amber Guyger, was found guilty of murder. The rest of the cases ended either in not guilty verdicts or are pending trial and investigation.
“A lot of people look at Amber Guyger being convicted of murder and receiving 10 years in prison for taking Botham’s life as justice, I don’t,” Findley said.
“Botham was 26-years-old. Our last conversation was about his 27th birthday…and he never got to see that. So for Amber Guyger to receive just 10 years for taking Botham’s life is not justice to me. That’s why I’m still here.”
With true accountability for police officers a rare outcome in these tragedies, the sisters are pounding the pavement, demanding reform and justice for not only their families but also for the Black community as a whole.
“Justice for me is ensuring that Black lives matter,” Crutcher said. “By abolishing qualified immunity, changing the use of force standard to make sure that police officers are held accountable, and that we get equal protection under the law–just like white folks in this country.”
Even though there have been small steps towards progress, including NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2015 directive to investigate the police killings of unarmed citizens, there is still so much work to be done.
K.C. Fox, social activist and crisis strategist, has joined the sisters on the front lines to help them navigate crises and fight for justice for their family members. She is optimistic that the momentum of the movement is swifter than at any other time in recent history.
“These last few months, I’ve sat down with several police chiefs across the state of Texas and had conversations with governors – that was something that we couldn’t even get a meeting before,” Fox told theGrio.
“There [are] more oversight committees being created. And people like myself and my sisters are being invited to those, or we’re kicking in the door and demanding our way in so that we can be heard.
And there’s a corralling of the troops, if you will, that has allowed that to happen. You’ve got Fortune 500 CEOs saying ‘Black Lives Matter.’ That’s not something we saw five years ago. So it does feel different,” she said.
Check out more from the interview, below.
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